Shuttle pods used at Heathrow Airport will be adapted as driverless vehicles for a test environment in Greenwich, debuting in the summer.

They currently run on tracks at Terminal Five but will go free range in trials by UK’s Transport Research Laboratory.

The £8million Gateway project is aimed at assessing how the public reacts and interacts with “fully driverless shuttles”. Three more companies have come on board to push forward with the idea – kit car manufacturer Westfield Sportscars , Heathrow Enterprises and Oxford University robotics lab spin-off Oxbotica , which will provide the mapping.

Prof Nick Reed, academy director at TRL and technical director for Gateway, said the move “further strengthens the UK’s position as a leader in autonomous technologies”.

He said: “The project will prove valuable in helping us to understand how the public and industry will adapt to the use of automated vehicles in the UK Smart Mobility Living Lab test environment in Greenwich.

“If the trials prove successful, we expect these vehicles to become a familiar sight in many cities around the world.”

Julian Turner, CEO of Westfield Sportscars said: “We’re looking forward to bringing our innovative, lightweight, technology to a well-known and tried and tested platform.”

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